The relaxation of social distancing requirements by the Executive is a significant boost for business, Economy Minister Diane Dodds has said.
Minister Dodds said: “I very much welcome today’s decision by the Executive on social distancing. People will know that I have been advocating a relaxation in the two metre rule so that local businesses, particularly those in the tourism and hospitality sectors, can have a realistic prospect of returning to something close to normality.
“This relaxation of the rule, subject to appropriate mitigations being in place, means that shops, bars and restaurants will be able to accommodate more customers. In many cases this could make the difference between a business surviving or not.
“For customers, the change will help improve the overall experience, whether that be queuing for less time to enter a shop, or being able to enjoy the ambience of a restaurant, café or bar.”
The Executive agreed that while two metres remains the optimum distance to maintain physical distance where possible, where that is not possible, a distance of no less than one metre between individuals should be adhered to where appropriate mitigations can be made.
The Minister added: “It must be remembered that everyone, whether they be business owners, staff or customers, still has a responsibility to follow the rules and maintain distancing, for the good of everyone.
“My Department has worked with a wide range of stakeholders to produce guidance to help businesses take the steps needed to protect the health and safety of staff and customers. I encourage business owners to look at the guidance, available on the nibusinessinfo website, and work with their professional bodies.
“The First Minister, deputy First Minister and I will meet representatives of the hospitality sector to reinforce our expectations on that front.
“We all must behave in a way that is respectful of the rules and of each other, so that we can all enjoy the benefits. In turn this will help us push forward the economic recovery effort.”